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UAE, Japan players and coaches work to team goals

Abu Dhabi-Japan Football Partnership Programme marks successful second year

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Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi-Japan Football Partnership Programme, implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Centre (JICE) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), has successfully completed a second year of activities focused on the technical and personal development of young Emirati and Japanese players.

The bilateral programme is a unique collaboration aims to jointly promote and further develop the sporting skills of young aspiring sportsmen by providing them with international experiences, exposure to different training methods and opportunities to demonstrate, share and learn from their collective and individual strengths.

A selection of Abu Dhabi’s football youth elite from the football academies of Al Ain, Al Dhafra, Al Jazira, Al Wahda, and Baniyas, visited Japan last year for a series of training workshops at the Yokohama F Marinos Football Academy. In return, two Japanese groups from the Marinos Academy and Cerezo Osaka Academy recently descended on the UAE’s capital for reciprocal activities as well as friendly matches.

Houriya Al Taheri, the coach of the UAE women’s team and ADSC representative overseeing the UAE delegation to Japan said: “It was a great opportunity for our young sportsmen not only in terms of football training and advancing skills, but also for the cultural experiences encountered. Through their time there our young talents naturally picked up good elements from their Japanese counterparts, becoming more disciplined in their approach, and more concentrated on the play.”

Mohammad Nasser Al Obeidli, an Al Wahda youth team player added: “I have learnt so many things through this experience. The Marinos players are very quick in passing and the Japanese people were very kind and friendly. I would like to visit Japan again.”

Khalid Al Beloushi, a coach with the Al Ain and UAE Under-17 teams, helped welcome the Japanese players to Abu Dhabi as part of the programme.

“The Japanese players were highly focused during their training, something that really impressed me,” he said. “I intend to share their attitude and approach to training with the rest of my team in Al Ain”

Takahiro Ito, the Cerezo Osaka Football Academy coach, added: “The individual capabilities and skills of the young Emirati players are quite high, and it was a great learning experience and encounter for our participating Cerezo Osaka youth players to play more self-determined and aggressive football like the Emirati players.

“We really appreciated the hospitality provided by the local clubs’ academies and the coordination arranged by JICE and ADSC. The football trainings and cultural experience will no doubt become an impetus for greater things to come for each of our players.”